ST. LOUIS– The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a case over Missouri’s abortion heartbeat bill. The high court denied the Missouri Attorney General’s petition to hear the case.
The bill is still pending in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 2019 bill has been in a legal fight since a federal judge blocked it a day before it was set to go into effect. The bill bans abortions after eight weeks or if the mother receives a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.
A spokesperson with the Missouri Attorney General’s office says, “we’re optimistic that the Court will rule in our favor. Since the United States Supreme Court retains the ability to hear this case following the 8th Circuit’s review, we will continue to fight for life at every level and every court.”
Earlier this summer, a three-judge panel from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law, but after the June decision, the court made a rare move and decided in July to re-hear the case before all the judges.
During September’s hearing, all 11 members of a federal court of appeals heard the case.
Under the Missouri law passed back in 2019, physicians who perform abortions after eight weeks could face anywhere from five to 15 years in prison but the woman who made the decision to have the abortion would not be charged.
Anyone who participates in an abortion after the knowledge of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis could be charged with civil penalties which could include the loss of a medical license.
Currently in Missouri, a woman can have an abortion up to 22 weeks. The number of abortions in Missouri per year has decreased significantly over the years in the past decade. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, the state recorded 6,163 abortions in 2010, but only 46 in 2020.
Here is the list of abortions per year in the last decade:
2010 – 6,163
2011 – 5,772
2012 – 5,624
2013 – 5,416
2014 – 5,060
2015 – 4,765
2016 – 4,562
2017 – 3,903
2018 – 2,911
2019 – 1,368
2020 – 46
Schmitt said he does not know when the court will rule but is hoping for a quick decision.
The hearing in St. Louis comes less than three months before the country’s highest court is expected to hear arguments for a Mississippi law that challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which establishes abortion as a protected right.